As part of the scheme, visitors can apply for a one-year, multiple-entry visa, allowing them to spend up to 90 days in Saudi Arabia, which previously only recognized business and invitation visas. On the new Visit Saudi, website, available in English, Arabic and Chinese, a slick video promotes the country’s natural and cultural attractions, featuring foreign-looking people, including women not wearing the abaya, the full-body robe required for local women.
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Many singers and musicians in the Hijaz in the early centuries of Islam have made it into the history books, the most famous of which is Isa ibn Abdullah al-Madani, better known as Tuwais (632 CE), who was the first to sing in Arabic in Medina. Well-known female singers include Jamila, Mullat ibn Salim and Basbas, a maid who worked for a man named Yahya ibn Nafis.
The agreement signed in the Saudi capital Riyadh on 5 November stipulated the formation of a new cabinet of 24 ministers, with 50 per cent of the portfolios held by STC and other southern movements, the inclusion of STC negations to end the war, the placement of all military forces under the Defence Ministry and the security forces under the Interior Ministry, and the return of forces deployed after August 2019 to their original positions. According to the agreement, all Yemeni forces are to leave Aden province within 30 days, after which Saudi forces will be in charge of security there.
For Russia, extending its hand to the region might indeed be useful; for Saudi Arabia, the decision appears more pragmatic as its once go-to allies for economic cooperation have been the US and Europe. However, the Saudis have several reasons to no longer trust the West and to seek support elsewhere.
As well as the freedom to travel, the royal decrees also introduced new rights in Saudi Arabia to register marriages, divorces and births and make family documents. There was also reportedly a new concession to allow students to study abroad without a mahram (a legal escort). These reforms are substantial in providing women with the liberty to get an identity card more easily or to be able to access further educational opportunities.
International funding for the Palestinian Authority for over 25 years has led some countries, especially in Europe and the Middle East, to lose enthusiasm for what they see as financing the perpetuation of the Israeli occupation. As long as there is no political framework under international law, the Israeli occupation will continue to dominate the Palestinian territories.
The Saudi ambitions face a well-known reality: the rigidity of a society and authorities raised and existing only for the sake of preserving religion against ‘sin’ or ‘temptation to sin’. Once again, MBS’ ambitions and the apparent opening of Saudi society are facing reality: within a conservative country, basic entertainment is one step away of being subsersive. The nightclub might exist for another few events, but who knows long it can sustain the opposition.